ESCANABA - James "Jim" Edberg of Felch has been selected as the 2014 Upper Peninsula Veteran of the Year.
Edberg was nominated to receive the award by his Felch-Breen VFW Post 4803. He is a life member of VFW Post 4803, serving as its commander for 30 years, as well as the Purple Heart and Combat Infantrymen's Association.
The U.P. Veteran of the Year selection committee consists of past U.P. commanders from various veterans organizations.
Edberg was drafted into the Army in January 1968, less than four years after graduating from high school.
He served as a squad leader in Vietnam. His missions were mainly patrols near the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a major supply route for the North Vietnamese Army.
He survived the Battle of the Angel's Wing, which involved two 1st Cavalry Division platoons sent out to surprise North Vietnamese forces near a small bulge of the Cambodian border into South Vietnam, known as Angel's Wing.
The enemy encroached by the platoons - 27 members each - was estimated at 500 to 600 men, armed with machine guns, mortars and rocket launchers.
Edberg suffered shrapnel and bullet wounds at Angel's Wing when rising from a ditch to attack key targets, and he earned the Bronze Star Medal for his valor in the battle.
Edberg has received many military decorations, including the National Defense Service Medal, Purple Heart, Republic of Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal w/60 dev, Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Air Medal, and 1 o/s Bar.
Edberg is also an avid entertainer of veterans, singing and playing guitar in the Long Term Care unit at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain and other nursing homes throughout the area, noting that music makes a difference in the lives of all people.
He has organized, conducted and spoke for Memorial Day Services at local cemeteries; is instrumental in organizing Independence Day parades in Felch; is part of the Post Color Guard for all veteran funerals; and has been a leader in the Relay for Life Parade.
Edberg has encouraged patriotism in youth and has spoken at North Dickinson High School for every Veterans Day Ceremony over the past 15 years. He also encouraged children to participate in the annual "Voice of Democracy" contest.
"It is important to remind everyone, especially school age kids, that we live in the greatest country in the world because of the sacrifices of veterans that fought, and many died, for our freedom," Edberg said. "Freedom is not forever unless we continue to fight for it."
He is also a member of the Elks, has worked with the Boy Scouts over the years and served as a Little League coach in the past.
Edberg is an active member of the Zion Lutheran Church of Felch and sings in the choir. He is married to Barbara with one daughter Robin, son-in-law Bruce and two grandchildren, Jacy and Jacob.
James Edberg will be honored for his achievements during a formal ceremony in front of the grandstand at the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba, on Thursday, Aug. 14 at 11 a.m. The public is invited.
Aug. 14 is also veterans day at the fair and all veterans get into the fairgrounds free with proper identification.